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Careers in Intelligence

A variety of career options and opportunities are potentially available to students after graduating with a degree in intelligence studies. Many national government agencies and international organizations seek out individuals who possess an understanding of intelligence collection and analysis, as well as an ability to do research, write, and evaluate changes in the world. Students specializing in intelligence will have competency in these skills after completing their degree at American Public University System. The below provides a brief sketch of what types of career opportunities may be available for those with a degree in intelligence.

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Useful Skills within the Intelligence Field
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Active Listening - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react that way.
Suggestions to Enhance your Degree
  • Participate in an internship at an agency. Most are in the D.C. area, but some agencies, like the DIA or FBI, have internships all over the country. Use the career services internship listing to get an idea of what is available.
  • Learn to use software appropriate for work in intelligence (Analysts Notebook, etc.).
  • Maintain personal integrity and behavior standards consistent with maintenance of a security clearance.
  • Join the Reserves or National Guard as an Intelligence Analyst or Officer in order to gain experience that will help you when applying for positions with national agencies or contractors.
  • Work with a professor to write and publish an article or essay in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Develop a deep understanding of foreign policy, international politics, and U.S. national security.
Must-Know Security Clearance Information

Security Clearance

Although not required for all positions, obtaining a security clearance is important when trying to enter the intelligence field of homeland security. While not all positions require applicants to already have one in place, most do require that applicants be able to obtain a clearance. It is important to understand what is required to obtain a clearance, the limitations, and how one is obtained before beginning the job search. One key piece of information to keep in mind: never trust a company offering preapproval for a clearance, no matter how small the fee they are charging.

Clearance Basics

  • There are three basic clearance classifications: Confidential, Secret and Top Secret. Within each clearance level there are different levels of clearance.
  • Security clearances can be issued by many U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DoE), the Department of Justice (FBI and CIA both fall under the DoJ umbrella).
  • To acquire a clearance, individuals must be sponsored by an employer and in a position for which a clearance is required.
  • Individuals who are naturalized U.S. citizens may acquire a clearance in the same way that a natural-born U.S. citizen might.
  • Although non-U.S. citizens are prohibited from obtaining a clearance, they may be granted Limited Access Authorization (LAA) in circumstances where they possess critical skills or qualifications.
Career Options

Within the Intelligence Community (IC) there are a wide a range of positions available, drawing on diverse disciplines and intersecting various areas of academic and professional specialization. Although position descriptions detailing each position and a comprehensive list of disciplines may not be available, some examples include engineering, business, research technology, finance, computer science, cyber security analysis, acquisitions, and economics. Additional information on the types of opportunities the intelligence community has to offer can be found on

As mentioned above, the intelligence field offers various types of opportunities, for which O*Net, a website run by the U.S. Department of Labor, has position descriptions. Related job titles include Business Intelligence Analyst, Political Scientist, Intelligence Analyst, Criminal Investigators and Special Agents, and Police Detective.

While not included in O*Net’s catalogue of job titles and position descriptions, there are a number of key search terms or job titles that job seekers might use when searching for positions in intelligence, including All Source Analyst, Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Imagery Intelligence (IMINT), Human Intelligence (HUMIT), and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT).

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